Friday, September 18, 2020

Jewish Inspirations

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from September 22, 2017. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast259


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Today’s post marks the Jewish New Year-  Rosh Hashana - which technically starts at sunset tonight and ends at sunset this coming Sunday. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (literally "day of shouting or blasting"). It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days hat occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere.

Its observance involves praying, congargating in synagogue, personal reflection, and hearing the shofar, an ancient musical horn. I guess it is appropriate to associate music with this holidaty, as we do today with some selection of “Jewish tradition”.

As I pointed out in the original commentary for today’s montage, music of Jewish tradition falls somewhere between what we think of as being music of secular, national tradition and religious / sacred music. None of the pieces I selected for this montage of music of Jewish inspiration are in my view religious in nature, but they do share the common distinctive sound, at times “schmaltzy” we associate with Jewish folk music.

The filler piece this week, Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, is styled as an “Adagio on 2 Hebrew Melodies for Cello and Orchestra”. It predates Bloch’s Schelomo by about 30 years. Bruch, a Protestant, first became acquainted with the Kol Nidrei melody through the cantor-in-chief of Berlin, Abraham Jacob Lichtenstein. Cantor Lichtenstein was known to have cordial relations with many Christian musicians and supported Bruch's interest in Jewish folk music. While some commentators have criticized the lack of Jewish sentiment in Bruch's piece, Bruch never presumed to write Jewish music.

The clip here is a performance by Jacqueline Du Pré, with the Israel Philharmonic under her then-husband, Daniel Barenboim.




I think you will (still) love this music too.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Grande messe des morts

 


This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from March 15, 2013. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/GrandeMesseDesMorts 


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This week’s throwback montage was chosen to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the terrir attacks of September 11, 2001. Hector Berlioz's 1837 Grande Messe des Morts ("Great Mass for the Dead," often referred to as his Requiem Mass) is an appropriate work to mark this somber anniversary. As I pointed out in the original commentary, the performance of the Requiem I retained marked another commemoration – the bombing of Dresden by Allied forces at the height of the Second World War.

In a Classical Notes article, we are reminded that, although Berlioz retained warm memories of his religious upbringing, he referred to God as "standing aloof in his infinite unconcern," dismissed worship as "revolting and absurd," called Catholicism "charming now that it no longer burns people. Berlioz's cynical attitude colors perceptions that his Requiem is predominantly secular.

The article provides critiques of Berlioz’s Requiem that, some might say; underscore the dichotomy of Berlioz’s agnostic views and the Mass’ ambitious scale. George Bernard Shaw disparaged the Berlioz Requiem as "only a peg to hang his tremendous music on; to a genuinely religious man the introduction of elaborate sensational instrumental effects into acts of worship would have seemed blasphemous." One suspects that such reproaches reflect the critics' shallow view of religion as merely providing worshipers with spiritual comfort, a narrow purpose to which they also consign requiems. Andreas Kluge credits Berlioz with balancing social protest with religious hope, "rais[ing] a voice of protest at human suffering on earth while also casting a wistful glance in the direction of divine redemption in the world to come."

Our filler work, marking the tenth anniversary of the 1830 Revolution, is the Grande Symphonie funèbre et triomphale, comprising three sections evoking eruptions of battle amidst a mournful cortege, a funeral oration as the victims were reinterred in a new commemorative monument in the Place de la Bastille, and a hymn of glory as the tomb was sealed. Initially written for a large symphonic band, in 1842 he added string and choral parts "which, although not obligatory, add considerably to the effect."

The filler, as for the main work this week, is performed under Sir Colin Davis.


I think you will (still) love this music too.


OTF Link - https://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/3284-OTF-Grande-Messe-des-Morts

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Mozart - Symphony No.1 - 9 - Leinsdorf - 1956

 


This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.


This week’s Tuesday Blog ushers in the return from our Summer semi-hiatus and to our bi-monthly format. For September, I have two posts planned (and, for reasons of programming logistics, there won’t be a “fifth Tuesday” montage for the quarter). Among other news. In addition to our traditional YouTube share, I am also posting this share to my podcasting channel – check it out when you have a chance!

Three of the final four Cover2Cover shares this year will be dedicated to Mozart, and two of these (today’s and a later share in December) cover what I will call the alpha and the omega of his symphonic output.

The "Italian" style of symphony, often used as overture and entr'acte in opera houses, became a standard three-movement form: a fast movement, a slow movement, and another fast movement. Haydn and Mozart, whose early symphonies were in this form, eventually replaced it with a four-movement form through the addition of a second middle movement.

The numbering of Mozart's 60-odd symphonic works is hideously confused, since everything after No. 41 is actually early music that was either undiscovered or for some reason unnumbered by Köchel when the original Mozart catalogue was first compiled. The early symphonies are all of interest, but of much less worth than the later works. Some of the early symphonies have doubtful provenance – e.g. No. 2, K.17 is probably by his father, Leopold, and No. 3 K. 18 is by Carl Friedrich Abel (his Op. 7. No. 6) who was J. C. Bach’s concert-giving colleague in London.

This week’s share features the first nine , taken from Erich Leinsdorf’s 1950s complete Mozart symphonies recorded with the Royal Philharmonic. Because the Royal Philharmonic recorded “exclusively” with EMI, the name of the orchestra for these Winchester recordings was dubbed “Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of London”. These were reissued in the early days of CD in “Double Decker” sets for MCA records, which owned the Winchester catalogue at the time. Symphonies 1-8 were on the first disc of one such set, and I added number 9 as a “bonus”.

Happy listening!


Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony #1 in E Flat Major, K.16
Symphony #2 in B Flat Major, K.17
Symphony #3 in E Flat Major, K.18
Symphony #4 in D major, K.19
Symphony #5 in B Flat Major, K.22
Symphony #6 in F Major, K.43
Symphony #7 in D Major, K.45
Symphony #8 in D Major, K.48
Symphony #9 in C Major, K.73

Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra Of London
Erich Leinsdorf, conducting

Discogs https://www.discogs.com/Wolfgang-Ama...elease/6300013


Friday, September 4, 2020

Modern Baroque

No. 344of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. Mobile followers can listen to the montage on our Pod-O-Matic Channel, and desktop users can simply use the embedded player f ound on this page.


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This week’s montage looks at work from twentieth century composers that model themselves or repurpose music in the baroque tradition.

The first composer on the list, Igor Stravinsky, went through what has been largely characterized as his “neo-classical” period from about the end of the First Workd War to the early 1950’s. In that time, as an example, he composed his ballet Pulcinella, where he “reworked”  music by Pergolesi, and managed to strike a good balance between keeping to the baroque aesthetic whilst staying true to his modernist slant. The work I retained, his “Dumbarton Oaks” concerto, was heavily inspired by Bach's set of Brandenburg Concertos, and was the last work Stravinsky completed in Europe.

Another set of composition inspired by seminal Bach compositions is Benjamin Britten’s series of three compositions for solo cello, dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich. The suites were the first original solo instrumental music that Britten wrote for and dedicated to Rostropovich, who gave the first performances of each work. There's something very Britten-ish about the way these Suites manage to be profoundly affecting, while still showing emotional restraint.

The final two works on the montage both re-purpose music from other composers, the first (à la Stravinsky) spit-shining baroque music for a odern setting and the latter taking modern folk songs and setting them in a baroque style.

The arrangements by Strauss of Couperin's keyboard pieces to form a dance suite were part of a "Ballettsoirée" (ballet evening) which premiered on 17 February 1923 (as part of the Vienna Fasching or carnival). They revisit social and theatrical dances in the manner of Louis XV based on books 1–4 of Couperin's Pièces de Clavecin (composed over the period 1713 to 1730).

The final work, one of André Gagnon’s Turluteries after the songs of Mary Rose-Anne Bolduc (1894 –1941, née Travers - not to be confused with Mary Travers of Peter Paul and Mary fame…).  Known as Madame Bolduc or La Bolduc, she was known as the Queen of Canadian Folk Singers in the 1930’s; Bolduc is often considered to be Quebec's first singer-songwriter. Her style combined the traditional folk music of Ireland and Quebec, usually in upbeat, comedic songs. Her surviving recordings showcase her distinctive singing style, which often featured turlutage, which derives from Irish and Scottish musical traditions. This term inspires the name of the pair of suites Gagnon composed for himself at the keyboard, released in 1972.

For those of us familiar with the tunes, the baroque camouflage doesn’t totally hide the familiar ditties. The pastiche I retained, with the addition of the looming oboe, renders these works in a perfectly baroque setting.

 I think you will love this music too